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Title: My lawyer is a let down and I want another one

Date: 16 April 2015

Can I seek alternative representation?

I had an accident 5 months ago which was not my fault. I fractured 6 ribs, had a punctured lung and broke my right wrist. My insurer appointed me a solicitor without asking me and they don’t seem to be getting anywhere. I have tried to complain but my calls and e-mails go unanswered. My lawyer is part time. I am fed up and want to see some progress. I want a lawyer who will have the courtesy to respond to my messages. I am also massively out of pocket because I had to buy a new bike and could not work for 2 months. Can I change solicitors and will I have to pay the current bunch?

Richard Carpenter, London

Your solicitors are supposed to be making your life easier not causing you additional hassle. It is your claim and you are entitled to have the solicitor of your choice.

Solicitors instructed by insurance companies will not tell you this but you are free to instruct your choice of lawyer to act for you. If the case is worth pursuing then a lawyer will usually happily act on a no-win, no-fee basis. A recent court case has made it more difficult for insurance companies to try and restrict people from instructing their own choice of solicitor.

It is not acceptable for your solicitors to not return your calls or e-mails and you should be involved in the claims process. You have obviously made a complaint but this has not been dealt with. Law firms are supposed to have a complaints procedure in place and if you request it they must send you a copy informing you about how your complaint will be dealt with, by whom and in what time frame. You could complain to the Legal Ombudsman who has the power to fine the firm for non-compliance.

You may well wish to change solicitors as is your absolute right and this will not cost you anything. The new firm simply agrees to preserve the former firm’s entitlement to costs until conclusion of the claim.

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